Six Facts about Landfill Leachate and Methods of Leachate Management

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) landfills must minimize the discharge of leachate into the environment.  When water filters through a landfill, a phenomenon known as leachate generation occurs. Leachate can contribute to surface and groundwater pollution, which would endanger our drinking water and imperil the aquatic ecosystem. Following are key facts about leachate:

  1. Leachate refers to any liquid that derives from the deposited waste released from or contained within a landfill. It is generated from the rainfall that enters a landfill as well as moisture that already exists in the waste material.
  2. The composition of leachate depends on various factors which include the type of waste that’s deposited, amounts of rainfall, surface water infiltration and how long the waste has been contained in the landfill.
  3. Substances occurring in leachate can include chemical oxygen demand (COD), pH, ammonia nitrogen, and heavy metals.
  4. Leachate often results in a strong, offensive odor.
  5. Leachate can be controlled in lined landfills with leachate collection and storage systems. These systems typically include provisions for the drainage of leachate within the landfill and pumping the leachate to storage tanks. The stored leachate can then be trucked or pumped to a wastewater treatment plant.
  6. Most newer landfills are designed to manage leachate. However, some older facilities do not have liners and leachate collection/storage systems in place. Since leachate is not collected in these older facilities, management is restricted to methods that reduce leachate generation through surface drainage control, limits on open landfill areas, and effective landfill covers.

To ensure that your project or facility includes adequate safeguards against contaminantion created by leachate, it’s best to enlist the services of an environmental engineering firm with a solid track record in leachate management. HSA Golden has been at the forefront in the design of landfills that include advanced leachate control systems, including single or double membrane liners, leachate collection and storage systems, operations plans that reduce leachate generation, and final landfill covers.

For more information about leachate mitigation, contact HSA Golden at 407-649-5475.

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